Microsoft and Cisco have announced that they are integrating their cloud and IoT services in a bid to ease the management of IoT devices. This mean tying together the recently released Cisco Edge Intelligence with Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub to make transferring data from edge devices to applications in the Azure cloud simpler.
The announcement was made by two companies in a respective blogpost published last Wednesday.
“By enabling Azure IoT with Cisco IoT network devices infrastructure, IT, and operations teams can quickly take advantage of a wide variety of hardware and easily scalable telemetry collection from connected assets, to kickstart their Azure IoT application development,” wrote Tony Shakib, IoT business acceleration leader at Microsoft Azure.
He added: “Our customers can now augment their existing Cisco networks with Azure IoT ready gateways across multiple industries and use cases, without compromising the ability to implement data control and security that both Microsoft and Cisco are known for.”
Citing that Gartner’s prediction that 75% of enterprise data will be generated at the edge by 2025, Shakib pointed out that the ability to manage vast amounts of data near the edge will mean infrastructure and operations teams are required to manage more advanced data workloads, while keeping pace with business needs.
Marriage made in cloud heaven
According to Shakib, using software-based intelligence pre-loaded onto Cisco IoT network devices, telemetry data pipelines from industry-standard protocols like OPC-Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) and Modbus can be easily established using a friendly UI directly into Azure IoT Hub.
Services like Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, and Microsoft Azure Notification Hub services can be used to quickly build IoT applications for the enterprise. “Additional telemetry processing is also supported by Cisco through local scripts developed in Microsoft Visual Studio, where filtered data can also be uploaded directly into Azure IoT Hub. This collaboration provides customers with a fully integrated solution that will give access to powerful design tools, global connectivity, advance analytics, and cognitive services for analysing IoT data,” said Shakib.
Securing transmission of IoT edge data
Last January, Cisco released its Cisco Edge Intelligence software to simplify the extraction of IoT data at the network edge. The software runs on Cisco’s IoT packages and gathers data from connected devices to create logical flows from the edge into private, public or third-party clouds – in this case Microsoft Azure IoT Hub which will direct communication between IoT devices and applications.
“One of the outcomes of this partnership will be to offer customers a pre-integrated IoT edge-to-cloud application solution. Customers will be able to integrate their IoT devices through Cisco Edge Intelligence to Azure IoT Hub with a click of a button,” said Vikas Butaney, vice president of product development, IoT Business Group at Cisco in his own blogpost.
“Both Cisco and Microsoft have made it simpler, faster and more secure to send intelligent IoT edge data to enterprise-class applications. Customers will be able to drive their artificial intelligence, analytics, machine learning, and business intelligence applications to support a better digital transformation,” he added.
Already, customers in a variety of industry verticals are taking advantage of the Microsoft and Cisco partnership as they deploy more IoT solutions at the edge of the network.
For one, voestalpine, a manufacturer of high-quality steel, is benefiting from this integration in several ways. Cisco Edge Intelligence is being used to extract and transform typical factory floor data into valuable plant management information with seamless integration with Azure IoT service. To improve operations, voestalpine is using Cisco Edge Intelligence to ensure that IoT data is segmented and accessed by the right plant vendors while at the same time feeding its corporate systems on the centralised Azure cloud.
“At voestalpine, we are going through a digital journey to rethink and innovate manufacturing processes to bring increased operational efficiency. We face challenges to consistently and securely extract data from these machines and deliver the right data to our analytics applications,” said Stefan Pöchtrager, enterprise architect, voestalpine AG.
He added: “We are validating Cisco’s next-generation edge data software, Cisco Edge Intelligence, along with Azure IoT services for our cloud software development. Cisco’s out-of-the box edge solution with Azure IoT services helps us accelerate our digital journey.”